Mounted guard from Lifeguards

Mounted guard from Lifeguards

A trip into London and some time to kill. I decide to visit the Household Cavalry museum off Whitehall. The museum is located in Horse Guards Parade in part of the stable block for the Guards on duty.

Mounted guard from Blues and Royals

Mounted guard from Blues and Royals

The regiments which now form the Household Cavalry were originally 3 regiments: the Lifeguards were founded in 1660 by King Charles II. Two other regiments, the Royals (Royal Dragoons) and the Blues (Royal Horse Guard) were added to the Household Cavalry in 1820, although they had been founded in the 17th century as independent cavalry regiments. The Blues and the Royals were merged to form a single regiment in 1969. In ceremonial dress the Lifeguards wear red tunics with a white helmet plume and the Blues and Royals wear blue uniforms with red plumes.

Dismounted guard from Life Gaurds

Dismounted guard from Life Gaurds

Dismounted guard from Blues and Royals

Dismounted guard from Blues and Royals

The Museum deals with the history of the regiments over the years and also highlights the two roles that the regiments take in the modern day army. There is the well known ceremonial role – duty at Horse Guards parade and escorting members of the royal family on ceremonial occasions such as trooping of the colour.
What is less well known is the role that the majority of the regiment has as an active mechanised regiment serving around the world as part of the British Army.

One section of the museum enables you to look through into the working stables as the troopers prepare their horses for duty on the parade ground.

Dress uniform of Lifeguards and Blues and Royals. The black plume designates a Farrier

Dress uniform of Lifeguards and Blues and Royals. The black plume designates a Farrier

Dress ceremonial coat of a member of the Regiments mounted band

Dress ceremonial coat of a member of the Regiments mounted band

My favourite story was of the tradition that when an officer left the regiment, he was expected to donate a piece of silverware to the officers mess. One officer wasn’t particularly worried or concerned by such traditions and when reminded of the tradition waved it off saying ‘ oh just buy something and charge it to my bill’. His fellow officers hurt by his indifference to regimental tradition went out and commissioned a large table centre-piece and then presented him with the bill

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A great little museum in a very interesting location,ideally coupled with a visit to the changing of the guard.

Cutty Sark.

Posted: September 18, 2019 in History, Ships
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Cutty Sark. Photo by Paul Hudson (https://www.flickr.com/photos/pahudson/

Cutty Sark is the last surviving example of a Clipper. The ships got their name from the American expression ‘to go at a clip’ meaning to go fast. It became a term applied to any boat with a long narrow hull, a yacht like appearance and a large sail area. They were built for speed.

Hull of an East Indiaman (Top) and of Cutty sark (bottom)

Hull of an East Indiaman (Top) and of Cutty sark (bottom)

In the 1860s the big profitable cargo was tea from China. There was a large premium to be made for the first consignments back in London. From 1860-1870 there were about 280 British ships involved in the tea trade. The fastest passage from Shanghai to London was made by the Harlaw in 1869 at 89 days.

Cutty sark was launched in November 1869 and first set sail to Shanghai in March 1870. She was one of 9 ships owned by John ‘White hat’ Willis a Scottish businessman, who got his nickname because he always sported a white top-hat. She was designed for the tea trade with maximum capacity in the ideal shape for speed. She was made of iron frames. wooden planks and brass sheathing which was believed to be the ideal construction for speed and transporting tea.

Hull construction of metal frame. wooden planks and brass sheath

Hull construction of metal frame. wooden planks and brass sheath

In fact Cutty Sark made only 8 trips to China and her fastest time from Shanghai to London was 109 days. She would carry general cargo’s out to China and then on the return leg could carry around 600,000 kg of tea on each journey.

Tea chests in hold

Tea chests in hold

The opening of the Suez canal in 1869 was to mark the end for sailing ships in the tea race. They were unable to navigate it and so they were at a great disadvantage to steam ships which could now do the journey in around 60 days.

The two routes from Shanghai to London once the Suez canal opened in 1869

The two routes from Shanghai to London once the Suez canal opened in 1869

Cutty Sark was switched to transporting Wool from Australia and for many years she was the fastest ship in the wool trade. On every trip she could carry 5,000 bales of wool, each bale containing the wool from 60 sheep.

Wool bales

Wool bales

In 1895 she was sold to Ferriera and Co of Lisbon, who renamed her ‘Ferriera’. She carried general cargo to South America, Africa, the USA and Britain. In 1922 she sailed into Falmouth harbour in the south west of the UK. She was recognised by a retired Captain, William Dowman who set about raising the funds to buy the ship. She was moored in Falmouth and restoration began, She was used as a sail training ship and as a visitor attraction. In 1938 she was moved to Greenhithe on the River Thames where she became part of the Thames Nautical Training College. Eventually in 1954 she went on permanent display at Greenwich. In 2007 during renovations she was damaged by a fire. Thankfully all the artifacts and fittings had already been removed and the only thing that was seriously damaged was the decks (which were mostly 20th century anyway) although some buckling of her metal framework can be seen today. The ship re-opened to the public in April 2012.

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Being a history buff, the British Museum is probably my favourite of the many museums in London. The collection dates back to the middle of the 18th century when the physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane bequeathed his collection of over 71,000 objects on the condition that it was not broken up. The government accepted this and the British Museum was founded. In 1757 King George the second donated the Royal library to form part of the new collection. The first British Museum was housed in a 17th-century mansion in Bloomsbury on the side of the current building and the open for public viewing on 15 January 1759. In the early years the annual attendance was about 5000 people per year. The museum continued to acquire important pieces related to world archaeology and cultural studies. These included the Rosetta Stone, which was the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphics amongst other ancient languages, classical sculpture and, perhaps rather more controversially, the Parthenon sculptures from Greece. In the mid-19th century, the existing building was expanded and the natural history collection was moved to its own location in South Kensington (now known as the Natural History Museum). The collection continued to expand and the late 20th century saw new developments to enable more, and better, display of the collection. This included a complete reworking of the centre of the museum building and the removal of the British library from the site to a new purpose-built library near St Pancras. This work continues today and a brand-new set of galleries, together with new conservation facilities will be opened in 2014.

Further details and vistor information can be seen at http://www.britishmuseum.org/visiting.aspx?ref=header

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Detail from the portico over the main enterance

Detail from the portico over the main enterance

The Museum in the 18th century

The Museum in the 18th century

The new conservation and exhibition building

The new conservation and exhibition building

By the middle of the 19th century it was becoming evident that the British Museum collection was outgrowing its home in Bloomsbury. It was therefore decided to create a new museum to exhibit the natural history component of the collection. The site chosen was the site of the 1862 exhibition building in South Kensington (this had been labelled as one of the ugliest buildings ever built). Ironically, the architect chosen to design the new museum was the same one as had designed the 1862 building. However, shortly afterwards he died and was replaced by Alfred Waterhouse, who designed the building, which stands today and is reckoned by many to be one of the most attractive buildings in London.

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Natural History Museum London
Photo by Jancsi (http://www.flickr.com/photos/26831835@N00/)

The museum opened to the public in April 1881.

Video by Paul Dinning ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPJXfmxMYAoH02CFudZxmgg )

Found in Southern and Eastern Britain, its recent range expansion has been linked to increasing temperatures.

Male Large White

Male Large White

Female Large White

Female Large White

The large white is one of the commonest butterflies in United Kingdom and is found in most parts of the country. The favourite food plant for its caterpillars are members of the brassica family such as cabbage and brussels sprouts and this has led to its colloquial name ‘the cabbage white butterfly’. Populations of the large white butterfly have held reasonably steady over the last 40 years, during which records have been collected showing a decline of less than 10%. In flight it is easily confused with the small white butterfly, from which it varies only in size and in the markings on the upper wing.

The Orange Tip is the first emerging butterfly of Spring – most other butterflies seen early in spring have hibernated over the winter. It can be seen between mid-April and mid-June as it patrols hedgerows and woodland margins looking for a mate. It is found in England, Wales and Ireland and has been doing well especially in the past decade. Overall numbers are up about 10% on 40 years ago.

These pictures of male Orange Tips were taken at Rutland Water and RSPB Rainham Marshes in April this year. The female lacks the distinct orange colouring and is often mistaken for Small White or Green-veined White.

The Comma is one of our commonest butterflies and easily recognised by the shape of the wings.

Orion Nebula

Posted: September 6, 2019 in Astronomy
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I havent done any astrophotography for quite a while now, but I came across this folder of pictures of the Orion Nebula which I have taken at various times and thought I would share them.

The Orion Nebula (also known as M42, or NGC 1976) is a diffuse nebula located in the constellation of Orion. It is one of the brightest nebulae and may be visible to the naked eye in the night sky. It is located at a distance of 1,344 light-years from Earth.

It has always been one of my favourite photographic subjects.